The Portable Genetic Testing Device Industry
Predictive genetic tests can help determine your likelihood of developing a disease or condition based on an examination of your DNA. In the past, these types of tests could only be done in a clinic, but today, finding out your genetic risk is more accessible through portable genetic testing. These kits are user-friendly and can be done at home by providing a saliva or blood sample to mail in.
These tests are part of a growing, competitive landscape in healthcare that has been continuing to increase in popularity across North America. While they can be helpful, there are other factors to consider aside from genetic information results. Learning how the tests work and discussing the process and results with your healthcare provider can provide clarity on modes and methods of genetic testing.
How Portable Predictive Genetic Tests Work
Portable genetic tests are predictive, and use DNA sequencing to examine the risks of developing chronic disease, such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular conditions. Pharmacogenomic testing can provide insight on how a person‘s body will react to certain treatments, such as different types of antidepressants. Technological advancements have made these types of testing available as direct-to-consumer products through a myriad of DNA testing companies. With people staying home and the rise in telehealth services, the market share for direct-to-consumer genetic testing rose amid the pandemic.
Diagnostic testing also includes looking for genetic variations that can increase the risk of genetic disease. For example, if a family has a history of breast cancer, members may opt to test for the BRCA gene to find out if they are at greater prevalence of developing the disease, and if they are likely to pass the gene on to their children. People wishing to start a family can also do preconception carrier testing with portable genetic tests to find out potential gene mutations they might pass on to their children, since carriers usually do not have any signs of the genetic abnormality and otherwise would not know they have it. Both parents can do portable genetic tests to look for potential issues, but the screening is limited and cannot detect potential intellectual disabilities, risk of birth defects, or chromosome conditions.
Genomics looks at all of a person’s genes and how they interact with one another as well as the environment the person lives in. Portable genetic tests to examine genomes can be ordered online. They are non-invasive, and a kit typically includes a saliva sample holder and preservative solution along with instructions for the user. After the sample is taken, it will be sent back to the company, and in a few weeks, results will be sent online to the customer. While genetic tests ordered by a physician will typically be covered by health insurance, portable testing services done without a referral will most often be paid out of pocket.
Accuracy of Portable Predictive Genetic Tests
Portable genetic tests are generally accurate, though there can be false positives. If taking a test at home, it’s important to understand how genetics work and to appreciate the fact that they are just one risk factor in developing a disease. Having certain mutations does not guarantee you will develop a condition.
While portable genetic tests give people the opportunity to take samples from home, seeking genetic counseling before and after genetic testing to discuss results and concerns with a health care provider can help you make sense of and understand your results. The decision whether or not to take a genetic test at home or from your physician, including whether or not to have carrier testing or prenatal genetic screening, is a personal one. Rather than seeing it as a deciding factor in terms of making life decisions, results of a portable genetic test can act as a guide, and help you be more aware and proactive about your future as well as that of your future children.
Choosing Between Genetic Testing Companies
Portable genetic tests are not necessarily one size fits all. These medical devices come at different price points, with some offering different options for tests. The most important factor is to choose testing from a company that is FDA and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified.
With an increased interest in DNA testing, direct to consumer genetic testing market growth is projected to increase in the next decade, with a CAGR of 10.1% from 2020 to 2027. The forecast period estimates the growing market demand of genetic testing, including at-home tests, to reach 2.7B USD by 2030. Key players include 23andme, Myriad Genetics, Inc., Quest Diagnostics, Illumina, and AncestryDNA, though there are many currently on the market to choose from to screen for risk of genetic disorders.
If you are unsure about what company to choose, health care providers can help you decide on which portable test is right for you. Tests can vary based on the information you want to find out and what you are testing for. And some genetic testing can still only be done at a doctor’s office.